Record review: U2 – Songs of Innocence (2014, LP)

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What is this thing that has appeared in my iTunes account without my permission? I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want it. The other tracks in there were doing just fine before these 11 barged their way in and caused a disturbance in the force. The manner in which the Irishmen’s lucky 13th album has basically been forced on millions of people won’t help curb the growing trend of U2-bashing, but the marketing side of things can of course be forgiven if the music is quality. But therein lies the problem; it’s mostly not. Supposedly one of the band’s most personal albums to date, the once-I-was-a-young-lad lyrical platitudes and general emotional emptiness add up to an album filled with the most bloated sides of U2’s music and scarcely few of the better elements of their earlier career. Only Bono could write a tribute to a punk legend and make it entirely about himself, as on ‘The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)’, while the Beach Boys-tinged ‘California (There Is No End To Love)’ and ‘Sleep Like A Baby Tonight’ suggest that the song pool for this album can’t have been a rich one. They’ve had a career most other bands can only dream of, but it’s hard to listen to this album and think that U2 were once trend-setters; it’s all too vague and formulaic to make any kind of impact other than disinterest. Right clicking and hitting the delete button seems like an attractive method of restoring iTunes harmony. (Island)

For mX

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